Norman came in as a star and hasn't disappointed the Spartan Nation.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Norman came in as a star and hasn't disappointed the Spartan Nation. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

 

 

 

As the Michigan weather continues to get warmer and football players get to work vigorously in pads, one Spartan is undertaking a different position than normal: linebacker Chris Norman.

 

Norman is still recovering from elbow surgery and will not see any significant action on the field until he and his teammates return in the fall. It is a situation in which many athletes — not only football players but any other sportsmen — would become pessimistic, although the junior linebacker has done his best to put a good spin on things.

 

“It’s really frustrating because I love the game of football, and I want to be able to practice and be out there with my teammates,” Norman said. “I can’t do that right now, so watching from the sideline makes me miss the game that much, and I can’t wait to come back out and have fun.

“Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely looking to get out in the spring. But that opportunity is gonna come because I still have a lot more football to play. So, I can go out in fall camp and have that fun I was looking forward to (during spring ball).”

 

Norman is still slated as the projected starter in defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi’s linebacking corps. He started 10 games at “star” linebacker in 2010, making an impression on his coaches and his opponents by racking up 59 tackles (sixth-best on team) and averaging 4.9 tackles per game. He also intercepted his first pass of his collegiate career last season when MSU came back to beat Purdue in West Lafayette.

 

Norman is one-third of a linebacker unit which will feature Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. Norman has moved over to the “sam” position to replace senior Eric Gordon, while Allen is now in Norman’s old spot. Even though Norman is only able to participate in non-contact drills, he hasn’t been shy about answering his teammates’ questions or offering constructive criticism.

 

“After the guys come out of a play, they come to the sidelines to ask me (about) any issues that they had (or) I will try to approach them and let them know what they could have done better. I just try to work on a coaching standpoint now that I can’t be out there playing.”

 

However, Norman’s experience still exceeds that of Allen and Bullough combined. And even though the coaches will not get the luxury of seeing the new trio of starting linebackers during spring practice and the spring game, the good news is that the unit should be intact once the first regular-season game comes to fruition.